Dukes County population jumps by 25 percent


Updated August 17

Dukes County’s year-round population now exceeds 20,000 people, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released Thursday.

According to the data, Dukes County’s population went from 16,535 in 2010 to 20,600 in 2020 — a 24.6 percent increase.

In the town-by-town data, Aquinnah showed the largest increase in population, percentage-wise. The Island’s tiniest town grew nearly 42 percent, from 311 in 2010 to 439 in 2020. Chilmark showed the next largest increase at 40 percent, and now has a population that tops 1,000. The town went from 866 in 2010 to 1,212 in 2020. West Tisbury grew nearly 30 percent, from 2,740 to 3,555 in 2020; Tisbury increased 22 percent, from 3,949 to 4,815; and Edgartown increased 27 percent, from 4,067 to 5,168. Oak Bluffs remains the Island’s largest town, with an overall population of 5,341 in 2020, which is up from 4,527 — an increase of 18 percent.

Keith Chatinover, a county commissioner who led the effort to get people counted on Martha’s Vineyard, said it’s a big deal that the population now exceeds 20,000.
“I think it confirms what I heard while I was leading this effort, which was that we had an undercount in 2010,” Chatinover told The Times. “This was the most concerted effort we’ve ever had on the Island to get people to take the Census, and it clearly paid off.”

Town-by-town data shows that each Martha’s Vineyard town has had an increase across all racial groups since the 2010 Census, with some exceptions. Multiracial people in particular had a significant increase in population in all of the towns. Tisbury had the biggest increase in multiracial people, adding 503 to its population. Aquinnah was the only town to see a decrease in multiracial people, decreasing by one. The population of white people were in the triple digits in all of the towns, with Edgartown having the largest increase, with 698 more. Aquinnah saw the smallest increase of white people among the towns, adding 101 to its population. Black people had small or moderate increases in population within the towns. The exception was Oak Bluffs, which added 177 Black people to its population. Aquinnah added four Black people to its population, the smallest increase among the towns. Meanwhile, Chilmark saw a decrease of three Black people from its population. 

Latino people saw an increase in all of the towns. Edgartown saw the highest increase in Latino people, adding 47 to its population. On the other hand, Aquinnah saw the smallest increase, with an addition of 10 Latino people to its population. The Asian population on the Island saw small increases to its population, with the highest increase being 26 in Edgartown. Aquinnah had the smallest increase, adding three Asian people to its population. The Native American population had small increases, with Aquinnah holding the highest overall population of 96. However, it tied with Oak Bluffs in the increase of Native American people, with 14 additions. Edgartown and West Tisbury saw decreases in their population of Native American people, four and six respectively.


State grew by 7.4 percent

According to the data released on Thursday, the state’s population also increased over the past 10 years. Massachusetts has a total population of 7,029,917 individuals, according to the data. The overall population changed by 482,288, a 7.4 percent increase. In 2010, Massachusetts lost a congressional district because of a dip in the Bay State’s overall population.

Along with being used to determine federal grants, the data is also used to draw congressional lines.

According to the State House News Service, the Census data will likely require the districts of U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern to be expanded in size because of their population growth over the past decade.

According to the news service, Secretary of State Bill Galvin said Thursday afternoon that Massachusetts now has nine cities with more than 100,000 residents, and Worcester, the state’s second-largest city, has surpassed 200,000 residents for the first time. “We’ve had significant changes within our state. We’ve seen cities grow dramatically … Many of the suburban communities grew as well,” Galvin, the state’s liaison to the Census, said. 

While Dukes County saw a significant increase in population, Nantucket County led the way with a 40.1 percent gain — an increase of 4,083 people, according to the data.

Galvin said the new numbers from the Census mean that congressional districts will include 781,000 people, state Senate districts will include more than 175,000 people, and state House of Representative districts will include almost 44,000 people, according to the news service. “So all of these districts are going to have to change. And there’s going to have to be some significant adjustment made,” Galvin said. “Just to take Boston, because it’s the largest city, as an example, Boston appears to have gained — did gain — 58,000 people. That means it probably would gain an additional, potentially an additional, seat in the House of Representatives.”

The Special Joint Committee on Redistricting, led by Assistant House Majority Leader Michael Moran and Senate President Pro Tempore William Brownsberger, has already held more than 18 hearings on the redistricting process, and is expected to hold more public hearings once its proposed district maps are available.

Moran told the News Service on Thursday that the committee’s third-party vendor is working now to put the latest Census data into a format that meets the committee’s parameters. Once it has, lawmakers will begin diving into the numbers and digesting it with the testimony from redistricting hearings.

But he is also mindful of the Census Bureau’s plan for another data release — the Census says it will be the same data, but presented in different formats — by Sept. 30. Moran said the committee has to use official Census data, and “given the Census’ credibility in the last year and a half,” he is not considering the data released Thursday to be the official numbers, the news service reported.

Updated to include more data, as well as information from the State House News Service. Also, updated to correct an early version that provided incorrect population numbers for the state.


  1. And what is the total Island population of our illegal undocumented immigrants to add to that new figure? In fact, the year round population is now ~30K.

    • In actual fact you are wrong. Census counts people not citizens. Sure there is some undercount of the undocumented due to fear of deportation but certainly not by 10k people. I think you may want to look in the mirror and ask yourself why you made that comment?

      • R scott– some people of a certain political affiliation think that if you are talking about anyone but white people, you can just make up numbers, and that “proves” whatever point you are making. ( if there is actually a point )
        Of course, if you know who had his way, none of the immigrants would have been counted, and more money would have gone to “whiter” states.

    • Jesse, what difference does it make if they are undocumented, or not?
      Do you think that the undocumented do less work, per person, than the documented?
      If you want something done someday, maybe, ask an Islander.
      If you want something done today ask an immigrant.

    • I agree Jesse, there’s at least 30,000 year rounders here now. Every winter gets busier and busier and I’m sure that at least 10,000 people don’t bother with the census

  2. Seems the housing market has not been an impediment to what should be the Island’s greatest environmental concern, overpopulation. And some affordable housing folks want to tax the equity of Vineyard homeowners to accommodate more people living here. This policy is shortsighted and will wreck havoc on the natural environment.

    • The only way to make/keep the Island great is to make housing unaffordable.
      Dan, what do you think the target population should be?
      Maybe about 10% more than were here when you came of age or first arrived on Island.
      I think the Island was great in the 60’s.
      Some think it it was the 70’s or 80’s
      It depends on when you were born or first got here.

      Will the last one in please close the door on their new found paradise…….

      • When I came here the year round population of the entire island was 6000 residents. I would never seek to prevent anyone from moving here, but the lack of cheap housing is the only mechanism that keeps the population in check. If you build it, they will come.

  3. Actually population on Island is much higher. Most of the foreign workers that live here were not counted.

    • Actually the Censes Bureau is aware of the reluctance of the foreign born undocumented, documented and citizens to interact with any government officials. They do take that into account in their accounting.

      The Census is to count all people, not just citizens.

  4. I made that comment because I personally spoke to the lead Census taker and she told me they were having great difficulty accessing the (rural and otherwise) Island residents, especially the illegal immigrants (for obvious reasons). There are FAR more than ~20,600 actual residents of Martha’s Vineyard. THAT was my point. We need to face reality NOW on Martha’s Vineyard because our Denial is heading us in a very damaging and close to irreversible direction. What is the State of the Island?

    • I did the census on MV and there is zero chance there was a undercount of 10k people. It is utterly ridiculous for you to assert that based on a conversation with another census worker.

      • Once again, she was the individual in charge of the entire most recent Census of Martha’s Vineyard. She said that all the Census takers had great difficulty actually accessing the residents (legal or not) of the Island. Does that seriously surprise anyone? The year round population count is not remotely accurate and under by ~10K people.

          • FYI, 30,000 – 20,600 = 9,400 people.

            She told me their collective consensus was that a very significant portion of Island residents (legal or not) was in fact not included in the most recent Census of Martha’s Vineyard.

            We haven’t even begun to acknowledge the influx of Covid19 refugee / seasonal home owners who suddenly became year round residents in Spring 2020. That count is an additional ~7K residents according to Island municipal services. And now we’re in the most threatening national surge of the Covid19 Delta variant — with 81 new cases on Island in the past 2 weeks. Just imagine how many people more have sought escape from our extremely complex and daunting world with which we are now faced? Is ANYONE keeping track of the population SURGE on this tiny, rural Island — and the inevitable consequences of these changes? Martha’s Vineyard is NOT Nirvana! Everyone fantasizing that it is makes it even less so every single day. This little Island of Martha’s Vineyard is NOT the answer to the world’s current challenges! NOW would be a good time to seriously face this situation — while we still can.

  5. It’s such a shame the way this island has been and continues to be exploited for profit. All about the money for some. Follow the money, not much else matters to many. And, more and more folks are encouraged to come/move here. The island is advertised heavily. Almost time to look for another place to live for me. City crowds, traffic and new construction are not what I care to live with. The island is changing fast, sadly.

    • Jennifer—I hear that Florida is a great place to “live”–
      It’s not crowded, there is almost no traffic, the only construction going on is removing collapsed buildings, the weather is always perfect—and no one will ever require you to wear a mask. And you can get a gun just by walking into the local Walmart and asking for one.
      Why wait ? it will only get worse here– there will be more immigrants, more tourist, more liberals making up silly rules.. You can cash out your house for big bucks right now—

  6. The census is supposed to count ALL year round households regardless of immigration status.

    I have 0 tolerance for bigoted and racist comments here

    The purpose of the census is for representation and services

    What should bother us all is how the steamship has not addressed this population increase .

    Gee wonder why getting a reservation is so hard in winter???
    We need more Boats !! Not a fancy new building

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